Most anglers associate steelhead fishing with the colors of autumn and snows of winter, but there’s great fishing to be had in spring as well!
Fall rains swell tributaries of Lake Erie and bring in thousands of steelhead from the depths, and with it, hordes of anglers in search of these spectacular fighting fish. A few months later, most start to turn their focus toward trout or other species, but excellent steelhead fishing still exists through winter and into spring. With the change of the season, tactics shift accordingly, so here are a few tips to help catch more fish this spring!
There are a few reasons to target depth during the spring when searching for steelhead. Aside from early and late in the day when fish are more likely to move, steelhead holding in shallow water are often there to spawn. Spawning fish should be left alone and given a wide berth not only from our flies, but from where we’re wading. Choosing to target deeper slots and holes will help avoid some of those steelhead that are in spawn mode. It’s also beneficial since the fish will feel very secure there after spending the winter months clinging to the bottom of the deepest spots.
Anglers know to use egg patterns in the fall as steelhead instinctively enter the streams to gorge on salmon eggs. In all actuality, chromers probably do more egg eating in spring than any other season thanks to suckers that run into the tributaries. Suckers and steelhead will inhabit the same runs, and for the steelhead, that’s in an effort to feed on the eggs that get swept away from the spawning suckers. Orange and cream are two colors in particular that steelhead love during spring!
Go Early and Stay Late
As the days get longer, steelhead choose the low-light conditions of morning and evening to be active. This especially holds true as the weather warms and the middle of the day reaches the 50s and 60s. Anglers will be well rewarded to hit the stream early and then take a break for lunch before hitting it hard again in the last few hours before dark. It’s also the perfect time to fish faster water as fish move out of their deeper holding lies and into the head of riffles and runs as they prepare to move under the cover of darkness.
Spring is a wonderful time to be out fishing for steelhead. The weather warms, crowds are more sparse, and fish abound for those in search of their fix a few more times before the season ends. As long as anglers remember to adjust tactics and follow these tips, spring is sure to become a favorite time of year to chase after these fish!